The slew of taxes and user fees implemented by the Mia Mottley administration are emerging as the first real kinks in its seemingly impenetrable political armour, say political scientists. But the party that previously held the reigns of Government has failed to impress them as a viable alternative.
In interviews with Barbados TODAY, Peter Wickham and Dr George Belle contended that in order for the Democratic Labour Party to effectively challenge the Government on any of its policies, it must first represent itself to the people as a credible Government-in-waiting.
Wickham said that since Labour’s capture of all 30 seats in the May 2018 elections, there is now evidence of trepidation among the public regarding some of the party’s policies, which are being viewed as burdensome in harsh economic times.
The pollster expressed the view that even though this may present an opportunity for the Democratic Labour Party to claw their way back into political relevancy, it is simply in no position to take advantage.
Wickham argued that the DLP, which is still considered Government’s strongest rival despite the emergence of the Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development, has failed to demonstrate its phoenix-like resurgence to being a viable alternative.
“Even if there was a void that was created the size of a crater, the Democratic Labour Party cannot step in to fill that void simply because they are in no position to exploit any weaknesses on the part of the Barbados Labour Party,” said Wickham.
Since taking office the BLP Government has added several user fees including the Garbage and Sewage Collection Levy, a fuel tax and most recently a 660 per cent increase in parcel processing fees at the postal service.
Wickham said: “It is a fact that the BLP has made some mistakes because they are currently treading in some very tempestuous waters with regards to taxation.
“However, the DLP is totally incapable of dealing with it because the party has not started to understand what happened in the last election and they also have not started to put a team in place to respond effectively to the political realities.”
He noted that the Government’s saving grace from higher taxation has been improved service.
The political scientist contended that the DLP has failed to take the right steps to reassembling itself after their utilization at the 2018 polls. He warned that until it does so, it will continue to miss key opportunities to regain their place of prominence in the political landscape.
Wickham said: “The DLP has not even started to put candidates in place.
“The end of this year would mark the halfway point in the BLP administration and yet we do not have a single declared DLP candidate.
“The leader of the party has not declared a seat that she is interested in.
“The DLP believes that their route back to power is to speak of the ills of the Government, forgetting that they [DLP] were the ones who created many of the problems in the first place.”
Wickham’s position was supported by fellow political scientist Dr George Belle.
He said: “The party (DLP) has to reform itself because something went terribly wrong within the party and new leadership would have to carry out reforms at the constituency level.
“The people of Barbados would have to see new faces and new energy and new perspectives developing at the constituency level.
“This takes time and it will also have pushback because the people that were there before are not necessarily going to retire or just surrender.
“If that reform does not come then it is the same party that was defeated 30-0.
“All policies will have talking points and would be subject to criticism in a democracy but the question is the effectiveness of that challenge.”